One of the best ways to travel to Amsterdam is to simply go somewhere else!
Amsterdam is usually the cheapest flight hub in Europe. So whether you’re stopping over on the way to Johannesburg or flying in to Europe for some backpacking, you can probably find a cheap flight that connects through Amsterdam. From there, it’s just a question of changing a 3 hour layover to a few days, or even 10. It probably won’t cost much at all.
Amsterdam is not the cheapest city, but a surprising number of tourists manage to justify the expense. This behavior truly speaks to the depth of Amsterdam’s rich cultural and historic character. Just make sure you don’t get too stoned that you fail to set the alarm on your cell phone properly and miss your flight. This too, is a surprisingly common experience among visitors to the fine dutch capitol.
This is hard, and could be more leniently amended to ‘be a tourist once, yes, get it out of the way and then stop’. But someone has to take a hard line. Americans are always passing out in cafes (the weed kind) and falling in to canals. It’s all very funny but then someone dies and his government makes a fuss and the Dutch government has to pass some law aimed at inconveniencing the Dutch people in some vague display of public safety. American medical marijuana patients, particularly of California, are constantly casting aspersions at Amsterdam, despairing of the lack of variety of concentrates and edibles so freely available in their domestic dispensaries. But these limitations are largely thanks to foolish tourists dying in canals and out of hotel windows.
The British are the worst, thanks to the budget airborne gulag that is Ryanair, a chipper Irish airline boasting a fleet of planes purchased from gypsies behind a shed. Inside these planes, reality is an uncomfortable mess of bright yellow interiors and layers of body odor deeply ingrained into the seats plastic and even the aluminum frame of the rotting, cracking beasts of the sky. So the British fly over for 20 quid a pop in groups of 12 to celebrate Dom’s engagement or Chaz’s testicular cancer. They roam the streets singing awful songs and getting just as stoned as any 19 year old American, but with far more binge drinking, resulting in the usual complications.
Amsterdam really does have some excellent art museums, and you owe it to yourself to visit them. Don’t think about the fact that the ticket to the Rijksmuseum is the same price as two grams of amnesia haze. Van Gogh, naturally, has his own museum, but Amsterdam has scores of other museums and galleries to suit your taste in art.
The Rijksmuseum has the funniest name of the lot, and claims the largest collection of the detailed pastoral Masters, or a lot of 500 year old paintings by some Dutchman named Frans or Jan. The collection notably includes Rembrandt’s Night Watch, a very large painting of a bunch of men with cool hats in a street.
Americans in particular suffer from an embarrassing lack of rolling skill. Blunts only sort of count, and any accomplished spliff-roller can roll a perfect blunt his or her first time with a wrap, or cigar. The American Joint is not a spliff. This ugly, torpedo-shaped monstrosity is traditionally formed with no filter and no tobacco, resulting in a product that is hard to hit, harsh, and stains the fingers. Regardless of one’s opinion on tobacco, it is a simple fact that cannabis burns at a much higher temperature than tobacco. Cured cannabis bud, ground, chopped, or separated by finger, is still quite dense and oily. Dried tobacco leaf, while genetically modified and probably carcinogenic, burns much cooler, and reduces the ember’s temperature. Tobacco also improves air flow, resulting in more consistent and even-burning rolls.
Buying a pre-rolled joint at a cafe is the ultimate tourist move. First of all, you don’t have to buy grass at every shop. Certainly, a traveler should be on the look-out for the best-of-the-best, but realistically, you only have a finite amount of time in that fine country, and buying too much grass is either wasteful, or deprives you of the opportunity to buy exciting new grass later. And buying pre-rolls changes nothing. First of all, they’re usually shake– Large enough to send any American into the canal, but harsh and and crude. Plus, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re an ignorant tourist to be mocked or pick-pocketed, depending on how seriously touristy you look.
Rolling a spliff is a mark of distinction. The practiced masters hold silent smoky court across the globe, but any reasonably smooth and practiced effort is enough to get a ‘pass’ in Amsterdam, which may pay off socially down the line. Plus, ultimately, you look much less of a “noob.”
First of all, it’s Amsterdam. It doesn’t matter if you go to the shop with a 45 minute line and special marijuana trophies or some weird little place near your shitty hotel, the weed is going to be killer. Yelp is always a tempting vice for the uncertain traveler, but it cannot beat word of mouth and random chance. Just get lost for an afternoon. Worst case scenario, you can Google map ‘coffeeshop’ and just wander into the closet establishment for a spliff and some mango juice.
You wouldn’t fly to England and just see London, right? Well lots of people do. Which is a shame, because London is grey, crowded, and expensive. Similarly, Amsterdam is not the best city in Holland, merely the largest. And a capital. One of them. Getting off the beaten path can mean visiting Rotterdam, a city of 600,000 that was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt by the premier dutch architects and designers of the day.
Or try ‘s-Hertogenbosch. And that weird ‘s’ is not a typo; Dutch is a mad, mixed up language that sounds like the bizarro version of English; familiar syllables, but delivered in a random order. ‘s-Hertogenbosch is a cool little town with a cathedral and canals, which are often full of boats. It’s a nice opportunity to meet real dutch people, who have been drinking in the same cafes (the dutch drink in cafes, not bars; there’s no real difference in the building) for six hundred years.
You’re in Amsterdam, so why not just have fun? No matter what you choose to do, the beautiful architecture and endless supply of amazing stores to peruse will keep you busy for weeks. It’s basically an overpriced Disneyland for stoners, and as long as you don’t get tricked by all the touristy “deals” you won’t go broke so quick, and you’ll still have a great time. (I once paid $15.00 USD for a small bottle of water and some eyedrops… they’ll definitely stiff you on that dry mouth/eye problem you may be having.) However, as long as you shop smart (pun intended) and go with the intention of having a blast no matter what happens, you’ll have a great trip. Just be sure to not get too f**ked up; you still want to remember your adventures while in the city! And remember to always have fun!
Images Source: Ryan Tidrick